"How many people get to go and say goodbye on their own terms?"
It's a question asked by one of the Tragically Hip's band members in the trailer for the documentary about the group's summer 2016 tour, "Long Time Running," but it may as well be the great query of our time.
The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, is filled with behind-the-scenes looks at the band's preparation for the tour, after lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer in December 2015.
Today, it was announced that the documentary will be airing on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, followed by a release on streaming service Crave TV as of Nov. 13.
Called "both a history lesson and a eulogy for a group" by the Globe and Mail, it's the kind of movie fans wish could be made about all their favourite groups — albeit, without the fatal disease that will take away an enormous talent far too soon.
"Everybody around me did help me get onto my knees, and then onto my feet, and then ...." Downie recalls in the movie's trailer, leading into a clip of his astonishing turnaround performance onstage.
In the wake of his diagnosis, Downie has also elected to use his platform to educate Canadians about the often-ignored horrors of our country's history, using his concept album "Secret Path" to tell the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Ojibway boy who fled his residential school and froze to death trying to walk the 650 kilometres home.
"When you have someone with that fortitude and passion to speak out on [Indigenous people's] behalf it's this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness because he can touch different audiences that we can't," Tanya Tagaq told Vice in reference to Downie's efforts.
While "Long Time Running" decidedly focuses on the band and its more hockey-and-Northern-Lights views of Canada, it's impossible to separate the Hip from its mission of educating Canadians about exactly what kind of country we live in — and how we can work towards a greater feeling of inclusion in the future.
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